App: Bluster! (Free)
Subject: Language Arts
Grade level: The stated grade level in the app is 2-4, but it could be used by 1st graders who are already good readers and would be a good review for many 5th graders.
What it is: A word matching game from McGraw-Hill where players can work on rhyming words, prefixes and suffixes, synonyms, homophones, adjectives, and other skills. The app comes with over 800 words. More words are available via in-app purchase ($0.99).
This game uses weather sound effects and backgrounds to engage players. Each game consists of three rounds in which players need to sort 30 words into the three spaces in the center. Players swipe through the word list to find words that match according to the selected type. When all three words in the center spaces match, they are cleared from the list. The object of the game is to make all ten matches and clear the word list as quickly as possible. The game keeps track of the fastest times. The game times a player game in which you are timed as you place the matching terms in the given boxes from the list until all words are used. 10 matches wins one round. In addition, students are able to play the game in a team mode in which students are able to collaborate to complete the task together. The object of the game is to make all matches from the word list provided as fast as possible to get the best time.
Two things that would greatly improve this game would be to have the game pronounce the words in the list and to display the type of match players need to make during game play, but even with these shortcomings, it is still an excellent game and one that students will enjoy.
Note: When setting up the game, it may be best to refer to the “grades” as “levels,” since students may need to play either above or below their actual grade level to be challenged.
- Single-player mode: Students play at their own pace and can tap the sun to pause
- Team mode: Students share an iPad and work together to find matching words
- Versus mode: Students compete head-to-head to see who can clear the word list first
- Have students who are playing alone or in Team mode note unfamiliar vocabulary words while playing, then use the Dictionary app to look them up. They could even illustrate them with a drawing app and add to a class vocabulary book on the iPad or in the class library.
Key for success:
Make sure students know how the game works ahead of time. In Team mode, there are weather elements that can freeze the opponent’s move if properly timed, allowing the player to get ahead.
Using Bluster! during RtI
Originally published on Technology at Chaparral.